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-   -   Fine Art Photography Debate (https://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=925)

Zuiko 17th February 2008 12:41 AM

Fine Art Photography Debate
 
A recent thread raised questions about Fine Art Photography.

I would like to start a debate about what we perceive as being "fine art" and its relevance to enthusiast photographers and suggest we commence with the following questions.

What defines "fine art" to us, as individuals?

Is "fine art" a label that recognises true creative genius or is it indicative of pretentious nonsense?

If it is over rated and over hyped, how come some artists and photographers who subscribe to this category are able to command such high fees for their work?

What are good or bad examples of "fine art photography?"

I know very little about fine art photography and would like to gain a better understanding of the genre.

Regards,

Zuiko

RSGodfrey 17th February 2008 07:49 AM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
The "what is art" debate will be around as long as humans exist. There is no objective standard to distinguish art from non-art because it is purely subjective. If something resonates for you aesthetically or emotionally, it transcends the every-day and becomes extraordinary.

Within art and photography there is a tension between seeking versimilitude and resonance and for me, the ability to explore this frontier in digital photography is what makes it so fascinating.

I think the use of the adjective "fine" is redundant. Art by a personal standard or by social concensus is art. Seeking finer classifications as in fine, finer or finest is probably best left to so-called art critics who aspire to telling us what we should or should not value.

Richard

theMusicMan 17th February 2008 09:08 AM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
I think this could turn into a great discussion and am looking forward to reading peoples opinions on it. I though, have no real idea as to exactly what 'fine art' is when referring to photography. I have seen several photographers who on their www sites categorise themselves as 'fine art photographers' when to me, their shots are one or more of the usual génres i.e. portrait, landscape or natural history! I am unsure what it is about their photography that qualifies them to be 'fine art' photographs...?

Take this one for example (photographer will remain anon):
http://www.danmassey.co.uk/images/lochawe.jpg

... the photographer identifies themselves as a fine art photographer, and this category is named; 'Digital Fine Art Photography - Landscape', but to me this is simply a nice(ish) if somewhat uninteresting and low contrast lake/water scene. What is it about this photograph that makes it fine art...?

Maybe it's me, and as Richard pointed out in his previous post, it is an entirely subjective matter - thus I just don't 'see it' in this image... do you 'see it'...? :)

I see another photographers site, where 90% of the images are very good portraits, in b&w or sepia, and the photographer once again 'fine art photography' (can't show images from there as it's a flash site). So once again I just don't get the 'fine art' thing and though I'd like to learn, I just don't understand exactly what this is.

E-P1 fan 17th February 2008 09:50 AM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Art in photography is surely like art in any medium.

Basically IMO technique is secondary to art - important but not the main thing. In fact the pursuit of technical perfection - while it may lead to technically well-exposed, beautifully sharp photos that conform to the current norms of 'good photography' - usually leads to souless images that are pretty worthless in artistic terms - though wonderful examples of technical photography.

The artist needs to have the technique - then - have the courage and inspiration to leave it behind. Sticking with technical excellence leads you down a very different road from the photographic 'artist'.

Scapula Memory 17th February 2008 10:30 AM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
I think it will be very difficult for anyone to come on here and supply the definitive description of fine art in relation to photography. Maybe in the world of paintings and other categories it may be easier to draw the distinction but then it is all still subjective. What may work for you does not work for me. John`s picture is a good example, that does not speak to me as fine art yet is claimed as such.

A fellow poster here called Xpres recently posted some interesting city life pics in the Foto fair section which to me had a "fine art" feel to them, though as ever people you are welcome to disagree!

It may be true that some so called fine art togs command high fees, but then so do togs in other areas. The real power behind any image is one that makes you look, look and look some more.

Interesting thread, though I feel we may not find the answers Zuiko is looking for.

shenstone 17th February 2008 11:11 AM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by theMusicMan (Post 7792)
I think this could turn into a great discussion and am looking forward to reading peoples opinions on it. I though, have no real idea as to exactly what 'fine art' is when referring to photography. I have seen several photographers who on their www sites categorise themselves as 'fine art photographers' when to me, their shots are one or more of the usual génres i.e. portrait, landscape or natural history! I am unsure what it is about their photography that qualifies them to be 'fine art' photographs...?

Take this one for example (photographer will remain anon):

... the photographer identifies themselves as a fine art photographer, and this category is named; 'Digital Fine Art Photography - Landscape', but to me this is simply a nice(ish) if somewhat uninteresting and low contrast lake/water scene. What is it about this photograph that makes it fine art...?

Maybe it's me, and as Richard pointed out in his previous post, it is an entirely subjective matter - thus I just don't 'see it' in this image... do you 'see it'...? :)

I see another photographers site, where 90% of the images are very good portraits, in b&w or sepia, and the photographer once again 'fine art photography' (can't show images from there as it's a flash site). So once again I just don't get the 'fine art' thing and though I'd like to learn, I just don't understand exactly what this is.

John

I see what you are trying to do and I agree with the sentiments I think much of what is claimed to be fine art is just bcause it's printed on expesive paper and framed nicely with little or no merit.

However Take Care ! - it's a good debate, but it took me abut 3 seconds to find the photographers site from the link that provided the image and if this link gets googled and the photographer did the same he could take great exception.

You have taken that image out of it's context and criticised the photographer therefore importuning his moral rights as well as copyright.

If you want to use a publically posted image as an example it's better to provide a link that allows it to remain in context.

BTW I see that the photographer does not make any specific copyright statements on his website - trouble is that does not matter he retains these rights even if he does not specify such.

Back to topic - I'm lucky enough to know a number of fine artists ( in both senses of the word) and their work is streets ahead of that image. However that photographer also has some damn fine images on his site and I think that some of them would classify.

In my opinion - it's when you start breaking rules and limiting yourself and then come up with somthing that inspires and causes an emotional response ( whatever that emoption is)

Regards
Andy

E-P1 fan 17th February 2008 11:20 AM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by shenstone (Post 7802)

In my opinion - it's when you start breaking rules and limiting yourself and then come up with somthing that inspires and causes an emotional response ( whatever that emoption is)

Quote:

Originally Posted by E-1 fan (Post 7794)
The artist needs to have the technique - then - have the courage and inspiration to leave it behind. Sticking with technical excellence leads you down a very different road from the photographic 'artist'.

Seems like the faint echo of an initial consensus to me :rolleyes:

Nick Temple-Fry 17th February 2008 12:24 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
I know what fine sand means, at least in the context of navigation charts. It defines both the size of the sand particles and how they may be expected to bind together.

I know what Leslie Thomas meant when he had a character say of a developing girl “she'll be carrying a fine pair of churns soon”.

I know what “Purveyor of fine wines” means and why I'm more likely to go to Tescos.

And again I know what “fine on the port bow” means.

But as a collection of terms they are contradictory and give fine a definition of

“small and regular”
“large and rounded”
“over priced”
“closely in line with”

Anyone can add to this list of contradictory meanings, maybe doing so will make a 'fine' parlour game.

The only link is that they define a characteristic of an object, and that that characteristic is, within a certain limited context, agreed upon/understood by a set of observers.

So OK, I've failed with finding an understanding of 'fine'. How about 'art'; well I'd argue that 'art' is an organisation of shapes/colours/textures such that it conveys a 'meaning' or set of 'meanings' across a set of observers; and that the meaning is repeatable (by that I mean will be perceived by different populations of observers). Art therefore is something that meets the criteria of a communication from the artist to the observer, even if that communication is not a response that can be easily expressed as words.

So in 253 words (or 1400 characters) I've failed to add anything meaningful to the definition of 'fine art', I may even have failed to meet my own criteria of a 'communication'.

Time, I think, to goto Tescos, and then maybe this afternoon to take a few snaps.

Nick

Photocracy 17th February 2008 12:33 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by E-1 fan (Post 7804)
Seems like the faint echo of an initial consensus to me :rolleyes:

Yes, I think you're both on to something here. Here's my ten penneth worth. I think some photographers award themselves the 'fine art' badge when they start trying to sell images. In this context it means little more than "hey, buy my work". I know of a glamour photographer who has business cards with "[SoandSo] fine art photographer" on them. I can't argue with the quality of his work; it's better than I could achieve, but really, glamour photography is not fine art - is it? I think of it more as ***s out for the lads photography, and afixing a 'fine art' label to this is, for me, poluting whatever useful meaning the term might or might not have. BTW, I make a huge distinction between nude photography and glamour, just in case anyone thought otherwise. For me, the former certainly could be fine art.

E-P1 fan 17th February 2008 02:14 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
I don't actually know the difference between art photography and 'fine' art photography. I think the term, as Nick says, can cover a multitude of meanings - and sins.

There's surely a difference between fine artists (in any medium) and those handful that are recognised as the most important and influential 'Artists' in the true sense.

Can only one genre of photography qualify as fine art?

For example can street photography and candids qualify?

And - Who decides?

Scapula Memory 17th February 2008 04:56 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
So really we can assume that fine art is anything you want it to be and in some cases more than what you ever imagined.

E-P1 fan 17th February 2008 05:27 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Well yes and no really.

It can be anything - but it needs to be accepted by more than a handful of people as such for it to be in the running.

For example I personally can't stand much of the Hirst/Emin genre - but- someone has decreed it to be 'art' and the art establishment has legitimized this view by throwing millions of pounds at them both.

Look back at the Constable/Turner debate in 19th C. Same thing.... entrenched positions often quite violently in opposition. Now they are both recognised as high art. :confused:

ewan 17th February 2008 05:36 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Definition from the Little Oxford Dictionary:
fine 1 a, of a high quality; excellent; pure, refined; imposing; free from rain[hehe]
3 fine arts, arts appealing to sense of beauty, esp. painting,sculpture and architecture.

art n, human creative skill or its application; branch of creative activity concerned with imitative and imaginative designs, e.g. painting;
fine arts; thing in which skill can be exercised.

"who decides" you, the creator, or the viewer, do.

E-P1 fan 17th February 2008 06:34 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Yep - BUT - it needs more than one person's view for something to be legitimized.

shenstone 17th February 2008 09:05 PM

Re: Fine Art Photography Debate
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by E-1 fan (Post 7854)
Yep - BUT - it needs more than one person's view for something to be legitimized.

I agree, but the trouble is that it can be emperors New Clothes and it just takes a load of people to be too scared to say how ineffectual & irrelevant it can be.

Sometimes the one honest opinion should outweigh the mutual backslapping

Regards
Andy


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